Friday, September 19, 2008
Hardly Any Fair at All: The Mitsuwa Torrance Hokkaido Fair
Due to a strange course of events, I actually ended up at two food events last Saturday. After returning home from the aforementioned LA BBQ Festival, I drove down to Torrance for the Mitsuwa Market Hokkaido Festival. I actually didn't know what to expect, but I heard good things from I Nom Things and LA OC Foodie. What I found when I entered the store, was hardly a fair at all.
See what I found...
Maybe it was the fact that in was indoors. Maybe I just had too high an expectation. Maybe it was just the supermarket setting that threw me. Whatever the reason, I felt like this was more of a Hokkaido Sale than a Hokkaido Fair. Sure, the stands featured seafood and supposedly other treats from Hokkaido, but it just seemed like Mitsuwa was featuring special items. They set up a special seafood section selling fresh fish, beautiful crabs and other assorted fruits de mer. I was still quite full from the barbecue festival however, and didn't feel like springing for a king crab bento box for $20. In retrospect, it might have been money worth spent, but king crab can be $9.99 per pound when it's on sale at Vons.
Not wanting to leave empty handed, I did wait in the unbearably long line for the desserts. From the look of it, the fair was much more popular than anticipated. They ran out of melon pan (melon flavored pastries) and were only serving Hokkaido-style soft-serve and cream puffs. For $3, the cream puff was terrible. For $2, it would be bareable. For $1, it would still be wildly overpriced. I regret not getting a chance to try the melon pan though. On the other hand, the ice cream was a delightful treat. Not cheap either, slightly under $3, it did offer something unique. The taste was undeniably milky, something you can't easily find in the States. All I can say is that it reminded me much of the milk in Asia, but if you haven't had it before, I don't exactly know how else to describe it except "milky." I want to say that it has a vitamin taste to it, perhaps with a powder sensation. Some Japanese milk flavored candies have this flavor and they are much easier to find in Asian markets.
While I left without quite feeling in the fair spirit, it was a nice trip. I'll admit that I may not have had the full experience because I didn't buy any seafood and didn't try the famous Hokkaido miso and butter ramen. Besides the dessets, I also bought some groceries for a great dinner made by my girlfriend and some somen for lunch. It was my first experience with somen and I highly enjoyed it as a light lunch. So even though the Hokkaido Fair was not quite what I expected, this was one time when I didn't complain about life being unfair.